From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : UCC
Mains level : Need for UCC
- The Supreme Court said the nation has still not endeavored to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). The government has till date taken no action, said the Court.
A Case for Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
- UCC is the ongoing point of debate in Indian mandate to replace personal laws which are based on the scriptures and customs of religious community in India.
- It aims for a common set of rules governing the individuals of their religion.
- Personal laws are distinguished from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance. Goa has a common family law, thus being the only Indian state to have a UCC.
- Personal laws were first framed during the British Raj, mainly for Hindu and Muslim citizens.
- The British feared opposition from community leaders and refrained from further interfering within this domestic sphere.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 permits any citizen to have a civil marriage outside the realm of any specific religious personal law.
Hopes of founders
- The founders had penned their hope that a uniform set of rules would replace the distinct personal laws of marriage, divorce, etc. based on customs of each religion.
- Whereas the founders of the Constitution in Article 44 in Part IV dealing with the DPSP had hoped and expected that the State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a UCC.
- The court said that the Hindu laws were codified in the year 1956, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country.
- Despite exhortations of this Court in the case of Shah Bano in 1985, the government has done nothing to bring the UCC.
Goa: Leading by example
- The Supreme Court hailed the State of Goa as a “shining example” where “uniform civil code applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights”.
- Under this Code practised in Goa, a Muslim man whose marriage is registered in the State cannot practice polygamy.
- A married couple share property equally, pre-nuptial agreements are the order of the day and assets are divided equally between the man and woman on divorce.
- The judgment came in a case concerning the question whether succession and inheritance of a Goan domicile is governed by the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867 or the Indian Succession Act of 1925.
- Goa was once a Portuguese colony until it was made part of India.
Law panel’s stand
- In 2018, a Law Commission of India consultation paper had however said the UCC is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage” in the country.
- The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.